5 Ways To See If Your Students Are Learning

5 Ways To See If Your Students Are Learning

I recently wrote a reflection on a prompt given by our middle school director on how I know students are learning.  He's followed up and given us a couple articles to read.  I reflected on what I felt I was already doing, what I've done before but stopped, and what I should start doing. The first article was an excerpt from Checking For Understanding by Fisher & Frey.  The second article was the New York Times article Why Flunking Exams Is Actually A Good Thing by Benedict Carey. This entry is on the first article. Checking For Understanding by Fisher…
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Which Budgeting App Should I Use?

Which Budgeting App Should I Use?

This isn't an education entry but budgeting & managing expenses is something everyone should do! I've been budgeting since I got out of college to track my spending.  I used an Excel spreadsheet that got more and more refined over the years.  It was based on the envelope system, where my expenses were broken up into categories and each category (envelope) got a specific percentage of my income each month.  My categories were save, give, bills, groceries, gas, eat out, and debt.  I decided to look for an app to manage my budget when I got to the point where whenever…
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How Do I Know They’ve Learned?

How Do I Know They’ve Learned?

In our meeting of middle-school teachers this week, the head of the middle school shared his vision for our future meetings. He wanted them to be a place where we discuss the practice of teaching; announcements and discussions on logistics (which took up a majority of our meeting time previously), would be shared in a weekly email. He was giving us a space to discuss how to become better teachers. He gave us these little reflection journals to be used for out times together and posed a question for our first entry: How do I know that my kids have…
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Presenting The Growth Mindset

Presenting The Growth Mindset

I found a story that really captures the need to have a growth mindset- the idea that growth not only happens through the struggle, but that the struggle is NECESSARY.  I plan to read through the story with the attached slide show being presented.  I've marked when I plan to advance to the next slide.  Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care…
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Google Apps in the Math Classroom

Google Apps in the Math Classroom

It’s my first year in a Google Apps for Education school and my first year teaching middle school math. I’ve been thinking through different ways to utilize the Google tools in my classroom.  Here’s a couple I’ve been working with so far. Google Slides Reflection Journal I got the idea from an online workshop I did where we had reflection journals in Slides.  I call it the 'Math In My Own Words’ journal, or MiMOW. I create a template for them and give them a bank of questions they can choose from to help get them started. There's a new slide for each…
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Are Classroom Games Contrary to Intrinsic Motivation?

Are Classroom Games Contrary to Intrinsic Motivation?

In my first year of teaching, I played games as a review activity several times, usually for math.  I did table vs. table, boys vs. girls, white shirts vs. blue shirts, etc.  A few things happened that made me avoid games as a review activity for a while. I found that everyone would depend on the fastest problem solver for the answer.  They either disregarded their own answer or didn’t try altogether.  I thought “maybe I should have everyone come to a consensus and they all have to write down the work in their journal.”  That turned into slower paced students…
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So How Exactly Should We Teach Math?

So How Exactly Should We Teach Math?

This summer, I read a book on how to conduct your math class in a workshop manner where emphasis is on student thinking and less on just getting the right answer.  As soon as I finished the book, THIS article went viral on why America students sort of stink at math.  I also saw a handful of videos by math teachers who seem to be moving in the right direction.  It all left me with a ton of thoughts and questions about math education. How do you effectively teach math? I reflected on the various ways I’ve taught math for the past…
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An Educator’s Perspective on ‘To Sell Is Human’

An Educator’s Perspective on ‘To Sell Is Human’

I took the Myers-Briggs personality test in college (or at least a free online version so who knows how reliable the results really were) and I got ENFJ.  I read that this personality type is pretty good at getting others to do what they want (for better or for worse). Naturally, moving people has always been something I’ve been very interested in; how to get people to understand an adopt your perspective.  As an educator, I’m always trying to sell the students on the idea of working hard, being respectful, helping each other, and taking charge of their own learning.  I…
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4 Tools To Organize Your Teaching LIfe

4 Tools To Organize Your Teaching LIfe

Here are 4 organizational tools that I’ve found super useful in the past year that perhaps you may find a use for in your classroom. Padlet WHAT PROBLEMS DOES IT SOLVE? I used to write instructions on the board, and in a pinch, I would open up Microsoft Word and type up the instructions for an assignment.  When I was done, I never saved the Word files.  A few days later, a student or parent would ask me to clarify some things on an assignment, and I would have to rehash it all out again.  But not with Padlet! HOW…
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Ambiance, Decibels, and Dancing in The Classroom

Ambiance, Decibels, and Dancing in The Classroom

Studying sound recording technology in college wasn’t necessarily the best preparation for an aspiring teacher, but I've tried to find ways to incorporate the things I learned and enjoyed from the world of sound engineering into education.  Here’s three audio related tools and tips I’ve found helpful in my classroom. Bloom I enjoy having calming music playing during times of quiet or silent work, but I don’t like the idea of having only a couple CD’s or tracks of calming music.  Playing them over and over gets old.  I’ve tried online radio, but the advertisements that come up on Pandora,…
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